Thursday, January 5, 2012

Online Video in 2011: A Look Back - Part 2

In just the first two months of 2011 the online video industry erupted in a serious wave of mergers and acquisitions, funding announcements, new product releases and massive growth. The year began with a deluge of news about the growing trend in cord cutting, connected TVs and tablets. Codec wars erupted with Microsoft joining the fight and MPEG-LA calling for patent claims on the VP8 video codec, Netflix's dominance in the market and subscriber bandwidth consumption grew forcing ISPs to cap services, Amazon announced its video streaming service, smartphone sales surpassed PCs for the first time, Steve Jobs went on medical leave at Apple, Larry Page replaced Eric Schmidt at Google, real-time bidding emerged as the hottest new online video advertising sector, Comcast completed its takeover of NBC Universal, Time Warner acquired Navsite, Tremor Media acquired Transpera, and in the online video platform space released and Sorenson Media launched Squeeze 7 to help publishers make sense of of video encoding chaos, while other OVPs provided solutions and education around publishing video for HTML5.

In early March, I caught up with Scott Puopolo, Vice President and Global Head of Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), at the OTTCON where he presented Cisco's predictions on what the future of television might look like in 20 years from the study, The Future of Television: Sweeping Change at Breakneck Speed. According to Puopolo "The concept of consumer, controlled, increased, immersive, interactive experience is going to be the future of television and the consumption of our content is going to be ubiquitous. We'll be able to access it anywhere, anytime, from any device in any format."

Consolidation within the online video space continued its serious trend in March 2011, with CBS announcing that it had acquired, the "Internet TV Guide to What's on Online" and hired Jim Lanzone as its new President of CBS Interactive, to head up CBS Interactive's worldwide operations and roster of Internet properties, including and

After months of rumors and speculation Google officially announced that it had acquired Internet TV platform Next New Networks in its first content deal to strengthen and grow out YouTube's platform to support its Partner Program of over 15,000 partners worldwide. Many YouTube partners had been making over $1,000 a month and hundreds of partners making six figures a year, but YouTube said that's not enough so it would taking it to the next level with YouTube Next. YouTube said that" Next New Networks will be a laboratory for experimentation and innovation" and the team will be working with a wide variety of content partners and emerging talent to help them be more successful.

With so much news about cord cutting, I spoke with my friends at Skytide, an Oakland, California-based company specializing in performance analytics for CDNs and digital media providers, to get an inside perspective on what is cord cutting, the term commonly used to describe the trend of consumers who cancel their cable and satellite television subscriptions and "cut the cord" in favor of receiving their television programming from Over-the-Top Television (OTT) solutions available through the Internet. While this is a growing trend fueled in part from the wide availability of content from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and millions of other video sites, there is an existential crisis facing the telcos (telephone companies) and cable companies, also known as MSOs (Multiple System Operators), that could threaten the continued growth of the next generation television industry. Skytide's Roy Peterkofsky provided a detailed background of the situation in this online video conversation.

One of the questions that has been under debate within the online video industry is, what constitutes a video view? Is it considered a view just when the stream is called up and served to the viewer, even though only a portion of the video is viewed? Does the entire video need to be viewed to be counted? After several years of inconsistencies, the online video industry has not yet adopted a standard definition for a view. So to get some insight on this subject I spoke with David Burch, Director of Marketing at TubeMogul, Inc. According to Burch, while the industry standard is to count a view once someone clicks play and the streams starts, there still is a lot of misconception among media buyers on constitutes a view.

Also in March, another big acquisition within the online video space was announced with Polycom's acquisition of Accordent Technologies for approximately $50 million. Polycom is well known in the enterprise video industry as a leading provider of unified communications solutions in telepresencevideoconferencing, voice and streaming products. Accordent has specialized in video capture, content management, and delivery solutions more than 1200 organizations in the enterprise, public and government sector, including 150 of Fortune 500 companies. Unlike other major companies within the space that have been on buying sprees over the last few years, this was Polycom's first acquisition since 2007. I spoke with Mike Newman, co-founder and CEO of Accordent, the day after the acquisition announcement about the synergy between the companies and how Accordent will be integrated into Polycom.

One of the Internet's best kept secrets is that the most popular and ubiquitous media players, the JW Players, were created by an unassuming Dutch internet entrepreneur named, Jeroen "JW" Wijering.  Jeroen is Chief Digital Architect of LongTail Video, and his media players have generated millions of downloads since their launch in 2005. He helped changed the face of the online video industry with his open source JW Player which can be found on tens of millions of websites. Even YouTube ran on the JW Player for the first 18 months of its existence. Jeroen is considered a rock star within the online video industry and also the subject of a new full-length documentary titled, WHO IS JW? Through interviews with his parents, colleagues, university teachers and voices from the online video space, the documentary uncovers the secrets behind the success of one of Holland’s most viewed and yet least-known export products, to answer the question, “Who is Jeroen Wijering?

In April, I celebrated a milestone with my 600th blog post. I started this blog in 2007 to join the voices of the streaming media community as a way to share my knowledge, ideas and analysis of the online video industry. This blog has helped me develop my voice and define my brand, and become my main channel of conversation. But more than anything it's helped me connect with so many amazing people in communities all over the world.
As I approached my 600th post I thought a lot about what I should say and how best to reflect on own experiences and the massive changes within the online video, technology and social media landscape. I decided that I really to say thanks to all my friends, followers, readers, subscribers, community members, colleagues, people who I've interviewed, PR people who've kept me up to date on the latest news and really to everyone who has helped contribute, support, read my posts, comment, retweet, watch video and share something.

The online video platform market has exploded in the last few years, with dozens of new vendors offering solutions. Different platforms offer different features and target different kinds of content and customers, and with more than 100 online video platforms on the market to choose from. "An OVP provider is typically a SaaS (software as a service) solution providing end-to-end tools to manage, publish and measure online video content for both on-demand and live delivery. Typical components of an OVP provider include video hosting, encoding, custom players, syndication, analytics, as well as interactivity and monetization through a variety of online advertising options typically 3rd-party ad-servers/networks. Most OVPPs offer scalable product packages for both self-serve SMB publishers up to large media companies." (from VidCompare)

I posted a series of videos from the 2010 Online Video Platform Summit, that I co-chaired with Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen which was designed for video publishers of all types and sizes, whether small businesses looking to publish content for the first time, independent entertainment content creators, large media organizations, or anywhere in between. How to Choose the Right Online Video Platform for Your Business features a panel of online video platform users comprised of a cross-section of independent entertainers, business, and education who discussed their decision-making process and the features they looked for to help them advance their goals speak and best fit their needs.

But What About the Content? Curation, Aggregation, and Creation examines the growing field of video curation and aggregation services, as well as offer pointers for getting your own content made quickly and inexpensively. According to panelist Steve Rosenbaum, an evangelist on the power of curation who recently released his new book, "Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators", we are drowning in data and curation is the only way to remain competitive in the future. Rosenbaum says that information overload has led to publishers to shift from being an authority, to curating a conversation.

You can have the most compelling content in the world, but if people aren't aware of it and can't find it easily, it won't make any difference. From search engine optimization to social media marketing, there are myriad strategies for getting your content in front of as many people as possible. If You Publish It, Will They Come?, assembled some of the brightest minds in online video search and discovery, social media optimization and entertainment to examine the art and science of getting your videos seen.

Businesses that sell product online can benefit greatly with an online video marketing plan. Studies show that video is more effective than any other medium for building brand recognition and generating sales. New Strategies for Marketing and E-Commerce was moderated by Justin Foster, Founder of the non-profit Video Commerce Consortium, who was joined by a panel of retailers that are each using their own innovative strategy with video and social media to create brand awareness and loyalty, and to increase sales conversion rates.

Delivering Content to Mobile Devices features three industry experts in the field of mobile video delivery who discuss why you need to care about things like HTML5, Adobe Flash Mobile, and other video format-and standards-related topics, as well as provide an overview of how online video platforms can help you publish once and deliver everywhere. Online Video by the Numbers: Analytics, Reporting, and Metrics features an all-star panel of experts that examines what is the important data you should be collecting and how to use that data to improve the effectiveness of your video and increase your ROI.

The Online Video Platform Showcase: STREAMOTOR by IMAVEX, KickApps features presentations by Ron Yekutiel, Chairman, CEO of Kaltura, Kevin Yahl, President of ClickstreamTV, AJ McGowan, CTO of Unicorn Media, and Edgardo Nazario, VP of Products for Video Platform Solutions of Limelight Networks. While each of these providers have similar offerings, they all differentiate themselves by their video publishing platforms, analytics and monetization features, scalability, integration, pricing, strategy and market presence.

Finally, Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire, presented his Keynote: The New Video Landscape: Multi-platform Distribution, Monetization, and Fragmentation, which he discussed the broad themes involved in the complex and fragmented landscape for online video publishing, and the strategies organizations need to have in place to achieve success with their video initiatives. Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen provided a great summary of Allaire's keynote in his post, Brightcove: “Everyone is an Online Video Publisher” on, which highlights Allaire's view of the changing face of video and content monetization, as more and more publishers look to expand their video initiatives to all three screens.

Sometimes products come along that just simply hit the mark. Whether it's based on filling a business or consumer need, or for its ease of use, innovative simplicity or aesthetic quality, these products have helped shape that industry. They've also spawned competition within its market which has given us more choices and better products. But that particular product, while it may not be the first, will be remembered as the one that defines that market space.

Such can be said for Flip Video camera, that met its unfortunate demise in April 2011 – which I covered on

Just as Cisco surprised everyone with it's $590 million purchase of Pure Digital, the makers of the world's most popular pocket video camera, just 2 years earlier – the networking giant stunned the masses with its announcement, that as part of its consumer business restructuring plan, it would be shutting down the Flip Video business unit and kill the popular consumer device and 500 Cisco employees unfortunately would also be trimmed from their ranks.

The announcement was met with mixed feelings throughout the Internet, with many eulogizing the consumer device that revolutionized the camcorder industry and became an easy to use tool for online video publishing. Many have pointed out that the rise of HD recording capabilities in the iPhone 4 and the Droid have eroded then Flip's market share and triggered its decline. One the big drawbacks of the Flip has been the inability to capture good quality sound. The lack of a microphone input jack really limited it to being more of a "one trick pony" consumer device unlike its competitor Kodak's Zi8 which includes a mic input jack, 1080p recording and HDMI connections.

But the Flip challenged the industry and pushed smart phone makers like Apple, Samsung, HTC and others to make devices with HD video recording capability which many have said was part of its decline. That may be true to some degree, but it really comes down to the fact that Cisco failed at the consumer market because at its core it's really a B2B company and not a B2C company. More evidence of Cisco's retreat from the consumer market came earlier this week when it quietly pulled the plug on its consumer home Telepresence system, Umi.

Editor's note: This ends Part 2 of Online Video in 2011: A Look Back. Stay tuned for Part 3.